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At the young age of 16 years old, on July 2, 2003 my life forever changed in a way that some people may never understand; I broke my neck and suffered a spinal injury while playing at football camp at Central Washington University. Now, to most people who have gone through any set-back or troubles in life, the reasonable thought that would come to mind when you get paralyzed is to ask “Why me?” but if you know anything about me, that is the last thing that I thought. Matter of fact, my first thought was “I hope the other guy is okay.” Now understand this before I go on, my life prior to July 2, 2003 was pretty much perfect. I was an A+ student, on the rise and getting recruited to play D1 football, had the perfect girlfriend and great friends, and just about everything else in my life was perfect. I was on top of the world and lived my life optimistically with the “glass is half full” mentality, then boom, I break my neck and the world comes crumbling down on top of me.
Laying on the ground motionless and not being able to move, I was conscious and aware of what was going on and was immediately taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to Harbor View in Seattle for spinal surgery. As a result of the injury, I was told I would never be able to have feeling or movement from the nipples down. A couple days after surgery, I was still unable to move anything from the neck down, with the slightest of strength in my shoulders. This is where I decided that the words “no” and “I can’t” will never be a part of my vocabulary. I could have laid there pissing and moaning about “Why me?” and why did this injury happen and so on and so forth, but that is not the person I am. I believe everything happens for a reason because God has his plans for us all and they form in the most unusual of ways. Over the course of the next couple of weeks and months of intense and grueling physical therapy, I was able to get some feeling and movement back in my arms, hands, legs, feet, etc. The instant therapy started, my “never give up and give it all you’ve got” mentality kicked in. I forced myself to push and push until I could give no more and once that point hit I pushed through it and kept going. Around October of the same year, I stood up for the first time and took a couple of steps in the walking bars. It was at that moment where all the hard work and efforts showed, and believe you me, that was just the beginning of the long road to come.
12 and a half years later, I am just as thankful and blessed as any other person who gets to wake up and live another day. Over the course of the years since the injury, I have had to endure more than most people will in their entire lives, but that is why I am who I am and why I live my life with such a positive outlook and attitude. I can walk with the assistance of a walker and take a few wobbly steps without assistance; I drive a car, go to the gym religiously every morning before work, and still live my life with “the glass is half full” mindset. That perfect life prior to the injury is still there. I continued my schooling and went on to graduate from college at Central Washington and receive a Bachelor’s degree in IT and Business and was chosen to give the commencement speech to my fellow classmates and crowd of 5,000+ people. The girlfriend I had prior to the injury stuck with me through thick and thin and we got married on August 16, 2009. We bought a house and now live together and share our lives with one another each and every day, along with our beautiful 4 year old daughter Skylar. I have many goals and dreams that I strive to achieve in life whether it is financially, physically or emotionally, and I will complete and reach them all with unending drive and positivity.
I don’t want to be just normal, I want to be extraordinary and the only way I am going to do that is by doing the little things each and every day and striving to reach greatness.